So, that’s week 3 of Working from Home (WFH) done and we are just starting on week 4. Is anyone else losing track of the days? It’s a little bit like the period between Christmas and New Year but without the turkey leftovers!

Ed Watling
Head of Health and Wellbeing Benefits
8 April 2020
2 minutes

Where I’m writing from (Scotland), the children are officially on their Easter holidays now, but since they haven’t been at school for the last two weeks there isn’t any formal demarcation. Interestingly, I think they may have adapted more quickly to this new reality than the adults – they seem to be happy with the flexibility they have been offered, blending learning with play and relaxation (electronics!) without any specific time barriers.

Keeping healthy while WFH

Last week I looked at trying to avoid unhealthy eating while WFH. This week I’m turning to two further subjects that can impact on our health – smoking and alcohol.

Smoking – Although it is no longer fashionable to smoke, there are still a reasonable number of tobacco users in the workplace who, along with vapers, need to take occasional breaks to placate their cravings. Not being at their normal place of work may allow more freedom – there may not be the need to leave the home office to smoke. This in turn may lead to greater consumption. It might be worthwhile checking how many cigarettes you are going through during the lockdown compared to pre-COVID-19 days.

Conversely, if you aren’t too stressed by the current situation, WFH could be an ideal time to look at stopping smoking. There might be less peer pressure from smoking colleagues and of course no potential social smoking opportunities. The NHS provides advice on stopping smoking at www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/nhs-stop-smoking-services-help-you-quit/

Alcohol – The pubs are shut so there isn’t the option of a quick drink after work even when WFH! However, many of us will have our drink(s) of choice stored at home so we can have a quiet drink from time to time.

For most of us an occasional drink is fine, but we need to ensure that, with the extra pressures presented by WFH, we don’t self-medicate with alcohol. As with junk food, we need to be wary of drinking to combat boredom. Avoid the temptation to drink regularly at the end of the working day – just because there is beer in the fridge, that shouldn’t give you permission to drink it!

UK government guidance is that we shouldn’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week and these units should be spread over three or more days, see www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/calculating-alcohol-units/

I definitely don’t want to come over as ‘preachy’, but the COVID-19 crisis has completely changed the way we are living and working. The usual indicators and barriers between working and home life aren’t as clear as normal. In addition, for many of us, without our usual social lives and activities, days are just rolling into one. We all need to regularly check ourselves to ensure that we aren’t subconsciously falling into bad habits.

#stayathomesavelives #protectTheNHS

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